Ecosystem Management

Eco-DRR: What are IUCN's solutions?

Integrating nature-based solutions into disaster risk reduction strategies around the world

Disasters are mainly social constructs: they are largely determined by how society manages its environment, how prepared it is to face adversity, and what resources are available for recovery.

IUCN is uniquely positioned to tackle the multi-dimensional issues behind disaster risks and works to prove the value of nature-based solutions to reduce them. Its work integrates ecosystem management, livelihoods, community vulnerability, climate change adaptation and disaster management. It has global presence and particular expertise in areas highly relevant to the disaster risk reduction such as: forest, watershed, marine and coastal management, environmental governance and human rights as they relate to environmental issues. The challenge for IUCN is now to build partnerships and provide nature-based solutions for disaster risk reduction (based on scientific evidence and socio-economic analysis) that will guide its Members, global, regional and local decision-makers, donors and NGOs worldwide in developing and implementing the most effective strategies to build resilience to the impacts of climate change and reduce the frequency and severity of disasters.

Building partnerships

In addressing community vulnerability and resilience to disasters and climate change, IUCN recognizes that strong partnerships are needed between donors, governments, the private sector, local communities, IUCN Members and commissions and development and humanitarian agencies, as well as environmental authorities.

Since 2008, IUCN has been a member of the Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR) - a global partnership comprised of UN agencies, international and regional NGOs as well as specialist institutes that collectively aim to influence policy, enhance implementation and better coordinate efforts in environmental management for disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and sustainable livelihoods. It promotes ecosystems management as the key strategy to reduce disaster risk, increase local resilience and adapt to a changing climate.

In order to support vulnerable countries in addressing these challenges, the Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR) has designed a Training Course on Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction for Sustainable Development aimed at strengthening resilience at national and local levels. The target audience for this training course are policymakers, programme managers and practitioners from Government, working at national and sub-national levels in various sectors (environmental/natural resource management, disaster management, urban planning, land-use planning, public finance...). PEDRR also seeks to engage with regional and national training institutions to incorporate ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction in ongoing training programmes. The training course is organised into 4 main Sessions that will provide an Agenda for Action to integrate ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction into development planning at national and/or sub-national levels.

PEDRR partners

Providing nature-based solutions for disaster risk reduction

IUCN is working to enhance ecosystem management for disaster risk reduction at national and local scales around the world. IUCN’s disaster risk reduction work is supported by the environmental expertise available across the Union’s thematic programmes (e.g. Marine, Forest, Water, Protected Areas) various Members and a Commission on Ecosystem Management which has a Thematic Group on Disaster Risk Reduction.  These provide a strong international expert network for building IUCN's work on disaster risk reduction. Some of IUCN's recent and current activities related to disaster risk reduction include:

IUCN's Water and Nature Initiative (WANI) aims to help reduce poverty and protect the environment by helping people to manage river flows and improving access to all communities. It promotes integrated water resources management  and good water governance for ecosystem sustainability and livelihood security. In doing so, it helps reduce human vulnerability to floods, droughts and storms. IUCN is also actively involved in international dialogues that promote the consideration of the role of water management in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, including UNFCCC discussions and the World Water Forum.

IUCN promotes a rights-based approach to conservation and works to evaluate the impacts that climate change will have on human communities and especially poor and vulnerable people – including indigenous peoples and women – and aims to increase their resilience.

IUCN, with WEDO, UNDP and UNEP, is a core member of the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA) which aims ensure that climate change policies, decision-making and initiatives at the global, regional and national levels are gender responsive.

IUCN with IISD, SEI-US and Intercooperation jointly developed the Community-based Risk Screening Tool – Adaptation and Livelihoods (CRiSTAL), a tool developed to integrate risk reduction and adaptation strategies into development projects.

IUCN supports Mangroves for the Future (MFF) in Asia and the Pacific Mangrove Initiative (PMI) in Oceania. These are coastal ecosystem conservation projects for sustainable development, which include special focus on adaptation. 

IUCN recognizes that islands are central to global conservation efforts and offer lessons learnt for resilience and adaptation. It has established an Islands Initiative to enhance environmental management and livelihood security on islands in the face of climate change impacts.

IUCN also recognizes the importance of drylands as diverse ecosystems that support livelihoods of some of the poorest people on the planet. It works towards conservation, sustainable use and adaptation of dryland systems, including their human pastoralist communities, to a changing climate. See more on drylands

IUCN is working to improve its capacity to assess and address the impacts of climate change and disasters on vulnerable communities, including development of innovative metrics to assess ecosystem-related elements of community vulnerability. 

Mangrove fisherman in Sri Lanka

Gender and Disaster Risk Reduction

IUCN has developed guidelines on addressing environment and gender issues in disaster risk reduction for the International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UN/ISDR) National Platform Toolkit. These guidelines are only the first step in integrating environmental and gender considerations into national disaster risk reduction efforts. IUCN would like to enhance the implementation process by further developing partnerships with National Platforms and Hyogo Framework for Action focal points. This can be done through regional workshops on ecosystems and disaster risk management and by working directly with each National Platform process.


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